Special Note: The author of the following letter is well- known to me. He is a trustworthy young man who had an impressive secular education in the States and gave it all up when he became a ba’al teshuvah and decided to pursue a life of Torah learning in Jerusalem. His wife, who comes from a fine American family that made aliyah many years ago, is equally committed. I know them and can vouch for them. I also know for a fact that this young man is a serious, sincere “learner” whose parents experienced tremendous financial reversals and are not in a position to help in any way, shape or form.
The yeshiva at which he is studying, as most mosdos, yeshivos and tzedakos nowadays, is struggling just to keep afloat. So when I received his plea for help, I decided to publish his letter on the chance that one of our readers might be able to come to his assistance. Stranger things than this have happened in the past.
Over the years people have written to me with the most unusual requests. After publishing their letters, volunteers came forth and signaled their willingness to help. Our people are truly amazing. Just consider – the very fact that this young man feels confident in making such a request is surely testimony to the unbelievable chesedthat prevails within our people.
Over the millennia, we traversed the globe, we encountered many civilizations, many societies, many cultures…. we knew persecution, oppression and torture as well as assimilation and alienation. But the chesed with which our Father Abraham endowed us is so deeply ingrained in our souls that even the most trying experiences cannot destroy it. May Hashem grant that, in this merit of chesed, we be zocheh to behold the redemption of our people speedily in our own day.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:
This is _________ from Jerusalem. I hope that you and the entire Hineni Kehillah had powerful and productive Yamin Noraim. When I spoke to you last in August, I mentioned that, with no support from my parents, my wife and I were having trouble getting by. We are happy to be moser nefesh for Torah, but with the outrageous rental prices for even a 25-meter studio apartment (over 800 dollars a month when my wife’s salary is barely $18,000 a year), we can’t make it.
Additionally, there are virtually no stipends in yeshivas (support for young married men who learn full-time). We couldn’t cover our bills if it weren’t for the help that my over-extended parents-in-law provide on a constant basis. Again, we have very low material standards, but we have trouble meeting even those.
When I spoke to you, I didn’t dare ask for financial help because I know the economic situation, and I am sure that Hineni, like other tzedakos and kiruv organizations must be feeling the pinch. However, I realize that there is something I can ask for your help with, and it is the following:
Baruch Hashem, Sukkos is a magical time in Eretz Yisrael, and especially in Ir HaKodesh – the Holy City of Yerushalayim. What is particularly nice to see is so many people from out of the country, making a modern-day aliyah l’regel – pilgrimage for the chag. It occurred to my wife and me that many of these people have apartments in Jerusalem, and these apartments sit empty with the exception of Yamim Tovim or a few weeks in the summer. What a lifesaver they could be for couples such as we who are struggling just to survive.
There are entire neighborhoods that remain empty for the majority of the year. The families that own these apartments return to their homes Chutz La’Aretz, while many young kollel couples, who have made Yerushalayim their permanent home, are desperately searching for a place to live.
Please do not think I am asking for an outright gift. Of course we would want to pay something, but as things stand now, even with the greatest sacrifice, we cannot meet the inflated rental prices that landlords are demanding in Jerusalem. So, though it may be brazen to make such a request, I was hoping I could ask you to look out for me to see if there is anyone you might know or come into contact with that might be willing to rent their apartment to us for a low price. It goes without saying that we would accept the responsibility of leaving the apartment in perfect condition.
Of course we would be happy to vacate for all Yamim Tovim or any other time of the year. I am certain that you can understand that a fifteen-meter machsan is fine for a week or a month, but for a whole year it is a little bit difficult to function with no kitchen facilities and barely a bathroom.
We would be happy to pay a subsidized rent. Additionally, since my father-in-law is a very competent contractor, he would vouch to fix any potential damages that they might worry about or make improvements in the apartment.
Overall I am, Baruch Hashem, unfazed by our problem. I have emunah and I know that Hashem will help us. The outer trappings of gashmius don’t bother me. I want nothing more than to focus on my learning. We are not naive and are ready for sacrifice. My wife is ready for the commitment that such a kollel life entails, but the basics we need -to live in an apartment with a working stove and not just a one-room machsan.
Up until now, we have been relying heavily on my parents-in-law, and while they are really amazing and very giving we basically cook every meal in their house, use their house for phone calls, laundry and everything else. It is not good for my wife to have essentially never left home – although relations between my parents-in-law and us remain excellent, in a certain way, we don’t feel the independence of marriage and it obviously bothers my wife.
Please forgive me for burdening you with my personal needs, but it occurred to me that perhaps, just perhaps, someone might respond to this plea. I would like to add that we are not seeking this help on a long- term basis. We would just like to have the opportunity to save up some money so that my wife and I can obtain a residence in a Jerusalem suburb where apartments are much less expensive and mortgages are more affordable.
I would like to express my appreciation to you for considering my letter and bringing my request to the attention of your many readers. May I ask you to please omit my name?
Chag Sameach & Gut Yom Tov
My Dear Friend:
As you can see, of all the letters and e-mail that came across my desk this week, I gave your letter priority and am pleased to publish it. I hope that, B’Ezrat Hashem…. as a result, something good will occur. Please be assured that if I have any positive responses, I will be in touch.
With every best wish and brachos